Smelly Socks: Outlandish Outlet Occurrence

By Johanna Bloom
Sept. 13, 2012 at 4:13 a.m.
Updated Sept. 16, 2012 at 4:16 a.m.

Ranch Life

It is often said that females just love to shop. There are jokes about women and the thrill they get of going from store to store in search of dresses, shoes, purses and all of those other essentials that every woman just needs.

I can honestly say that, yes, I do love shopping. I also love getting a good deal and coming away with the perfect item.

With that said, I also know that men love shopping just as much as women. They might be shopping for trailers, boats, sports equipment and other "manly" items, but I think that shopping is shopping.

So, in search of the bargains that I love, and the fact that my kids have grown like weeds over the summer, I found myself in need of a back-to-school shopping trip.

A recent family excursion to the outlet mall in San Marcos proved to be an eye-opening experience that has forever changed my opinion about males and shopping.

From the minute we arrived at the outlet mall, Austin and Jamison had our entire route planned out. They got a map of the stores and directed my dad as he happily took his place as our chauffeur. The boys figured out where we were to park to maximize what stores they wanted to go to in the allotted time allowed per store. Suddenly our shopping trip had turned into a fine science.

No attention was given to anyone who might want to go to a shop outside of the boys' specifically chosen designated areas.

My boys had an agenda and they preferred not to waiver. And once they heard the term "back-to-school clothes" they figured the day was devoted solely to them.

First stop was the Under Armour store, then off to the Nike and Reebok stores, continue on to the Gap Outlet, round it off with a stop by Sunglass Hut, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren and then a strong finish by the Eddie Bauer Outlet. Whew, my boys can shop and are very opinionated by what they like and don't like.

I did speak up and suggest the Pottery Barn store, Williams-Sonoma and the Neiman Marcus Back Room store. How about Coach or Ann Taylor? My preferences where met with whining and huffing. With John's and my father's urging, they did let my mother and I venture into the few shops that really interested us. However, we were extremely aware of them standing outside the doors rocking back and forth in complete boredom as we made them veer off course of their carefully mapped out destinations.

My dad has a strange rule that he goes by. If he is going to buy something for someone, that person has to model it. Be it shoes, purses, jewelry or clothes, the individual who is getting the object of desire has to wear it for him.

I believe he likes to see their excitement over the object and he wants to see if he approves of it and the money it costs.

When I was younger, I would moan and groan and be completely embarrassed by this silly rule of his. In my stubbornness, I believe I even opted out of some purchases because the modeling thing was so humiliating.

I smugly thought to myself that now it's my children's turn, and they have to suffer through it. I have to report that Austin and Jamison didn't skip a beat and rose to the occasion. They took turns blocking the changing rooms for each other, as a line gathered behind them. They pranced around in their new shorts and T-shirts, tried on their new shoes, and did model faces with their new sunglasses perched in place. They ate up the attention and figured that no one knew them there anyway.

I was actually embarrassed for them, and I knew my dad and my mom were shocked. John just shook his head, and said that he didn't know them, and tried to distance himself from their performance.

As we walked to the car with bags in our hands and under our arms, men looked at my father, John, and my boys with that look of understanding. They seemed to imply that my mother and I were to blame for the many packages we were carrying.

My dad didn't help the situation with his comment of, "Oh, you know women, they love to shop."

My mom and I broke into laughter as we knew the real story. The boys racked up like kings that day at the outlet mall, and I can honestly say that I have never seen them so animated about clothes and shoes.

Austin and Jamison had never asked me to go shopping for any clothes or shoes before, and they have never told me that they needed anything in general as far as their wardrobes go. They have been very laid back about their clothes, shoes and basically anything they wear. Whatever I have picked out is always just fine with them. But, on that hot summer day in San Marcos, Texas, my two boys suddenly got opinions and caught the shopping bug. I fear they will never be the same.

Johanna is a proud seventh generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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